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tv   Book TV  CSPAN  January 26, 2013 2:00pm-3:00pm EST

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and it infected a total of about 8000 people. better than 10%. then i heard somebody say, well, why does he take zoonotic so seriously? well, there was very good scientific work in the field and very firm public health measures. isolation of cases, getting the right equipment, getting the right personal protection to the health care workers so that it didn't go further. one of the things i always wonder about is if that disease had emerged in a different place than southern china and hong kong and had gone to different cities then toronto and beijing and singapore, michael history have been different.
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those are command-and-control cities strong governments and athletic facilities and if that disease emerged in a province of the democratic republic of the congo, it has a lot of disadvantages and the disadvantages would have been probably very consequential or something like sars had come out at that time. ..
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part of what makes us, the human population and our extension a force of riot damage very dry tinder waiting for a spark. i mentioned the case in malaysia, the fact that pigs were kept in these huge outdoor compounds and they were arranged in a particular way with fruit trees was part of what resulted in that spillover. the other thing is huge aggregations of wildlife also represent populations in which a bug can evolve. more abundantly a virus replicates the more it is likely to mutate and it is an rna virus it is a double helix dna virus, mutation rate will be particularly high and generate a lot of change, as it replicates itself and that is great for
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darwinian natural selection so arenaviruses evolve more quickly than other pathogens and if you let them build up huge populations so that there are many hosts that are infected and each host contains many many of virus particles, then you provide abundant opportunity for evolution to function and for some particular strain to come out of there that is both really transmissible among humans and that represents a danger. mass production of livestock is part of that and only one aspect. there are other aspects. part of what makes us particularly jeopardized by the situation. >> in your experience following scientists to these areas where
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there is a high rate of crossover, spillover of diseases, to what extent have been noticed efforts to educate the human population on how to modify their lifestyle so it is better to avoid the crossover and spillover? >> there are certainly efforts. in bangladesh they're trying to educate people not to drink raw date palm staff that contains a virus. if you put the stuff you can kill the virus but people like to drink it raw. it is a tradition, a seasonal treat so there are things like that around the world. in southern china they crack down on the big what markets, at least above ground, and big wedge markets, sold live for
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food as a fashion in southern china, they call it wild flavor, a vote for eating wild life, not because people need the protein for subsistence, they have some money and this is considered a very robust and tasty food. one other thing on that in terms of education, of local people, i mentioned the original spillover, pandemic strain in southeastern cameron, i went to retrace probably the route it took coming out of southeastern cameron and down a river system that came along the main stem condo and eventually to the city of broadsville and leopoldof ville. and it really had a higher rate, sexual moress were different and this population more concentrated and other factors
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are described in my chapter on hiv and it began to crackle and it went to haiti and to the world. i went to see what i could learn about the state of human relations with jim and it -- chimpanzees now whether people were still killing and beating chimpanzees and exposing themselves to other spillovers of simian virus that became hiv. that is true, they are. i heard about sort of a confidential source, i heard about practice of a tribal initiation practice in which involves some rituals that include the eating of chimpanzee arms so people are exposing themselves to the virus
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chimpanzees carry. an office of the wildlife department in the southeastern corner i saw a poster, an aids awareness poster getting back to your question. french is the colonial language people still speak, a poster in fringe trying to educate people about the dangers, the red diarrhea, what the poster said, practice safe sex, don't exchange needles, and what they say in southeastern cameron is don't eat the apes, don't eat the chimps, don't read the girls. that is aids education. >> thank you for being here. i am dr. sam hancock of emerald planet tv. the transportation system supply chain within 24 hours as you
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know viruses could be around the globe so one of the most underfunded public programs is public health. this is something a massive amount of money has been drawn out of over the last 50 years, specialty. are there any best practices you have seen in various countries you have traveled to about how to build up the public health system so they can more easily identify some of these viruses and respond to it or something that is always reactive instead of proactive? >> thank you for your question. some very interesting initiatives of vigilance that are going on and you may have heard of some of these. one that comes to mind is something called a global viral forecasting initiative founded by nathan wolfe, the young disease scientist based in
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stamford. teamwork in cameron for years doing field work on the transmission of viruses by way of bush meat from africa wildlife into hunters, the bush meet hunters and their family. nathan has worked on this a long time, a grant from google and expanded this operation, a global viral forecasting initiative. he now simply called the global viral. one sample of the kind of work being done out there is he and his people send little kids out with a people, men who do the bush meat hunting from villages in central africa. little tips that include filter papers, the kind that are used for medical purposes and not that different from what you filter your coffee with.
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ziploc bags, they pay the hunters to collect samples for them. a data of blood on a filter paper placed in a ziploc bag now can be used as a sample from which -- enough dna or rna to identify a virus. that is what we do. that is a big advance with what used to be done. and they rush it back to the u.s.. liquid nitrogen -- the dots are bloodier at room temperature. they used pcr technology and a lot of other fancy laboratory things.
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we can't grow it. to extract dna and rna to identify what was there. that is what nathan wolfe and his people are doing, the idea being to spot the next big one at a very early phase. decades past before we realized hiv was in the human population. we catch the next big one earlier than that. >> how do these deadly animal viruses tend to evolve? do you think they will continue to evolve at the rate that they have done in our recent experience of monitoring and trying to control from? >> two things can happen. picture you are a virus in africa. humans are coming in turning down the habitat and turning down a monkey's habitat, killing
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the monkey for food, building villages, settlements, timber camps, the rise and, prospects of that particular virus are shrinking and shrinking and shrinking. at the point where that monkey approaches the brink of extinction two things can happen. it can go extinct or it can make a leap to another host. i don't want to make it sound teeley logical, they don't make choices and evolution is not theological anyway. they have consequences. if there's no spillover the virus goes extinct with the monkey. if the virus gets into a human by chance or opportunity and find itself able to replicate in a human and adapt to the human by mutating and undergoing a
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natural selection so that it is better and better adapted to replicate in the human and be transmitted to the next human then that is one of the sweepstakes. it past criminal speed of hosts with shrinking prospects to a species of hosts that is the most abundant of the of large bird animal that ever existed. >> are there thousands or millions of these viruses that have the potential to then evolve into an beat into a dangerous killing virus and be transmitted? >> yes presumably. we're just scratching into that area. some of scientists i talked to say we don't know how many species there are in the tropical forests, we know there are millions. weaken safely assume each one
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has a unique virus. at least one. >> we ran out of questions and time. [applause] >> thank you very much. thank you for your questions. >> visit to watch any of the programs you see here on line. type the author or book title in the search bar on the upper left side of the page and click search. you can share anything you see on easily by clicking share on the upper left side of the page and selecting the format. booktv streams live online 48 hours every weekend with top nonfiction books and authors. >> now robert caro presents the fourth volume of his biography of lyndon johnson "the passage of power" "the years of lyndon johnson". this book has been nominated for the national book critics circle award in biography. it is about 45 minutes.
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[applause] >> thank you. that was such a wonderful introduction, a wonderful introduction. it reminds me what lyndon johnson used to say. and parents were alive to hear it. and his father would have loved it. and his mother would have believed it. when winston churchill was writing his great biography, and i am working on the system of four volumes.
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i am not comparing myself to winston churchill but in regard to the lyndon johnson biography we are in the same vote. people ask me don't you get bored? the answer is the very opposite is true. for one reason, i don't think of these books as being about lyndon johnson just as i didn't think the power brokers being about robert moses. i never had the slightest interest in writing a book just to tell the life of the famous man. from the moment i first thought of doing books, and fought of biographies as a wave examining the great forces that shaped the times that they lived in. why is political power so important. we have the power and votes we cast at the ballot box, the more
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that we know about how political power really works, not at is taught in textbooks and colleges but we brought naked reality of political power. and the better our country should be. lyndon johnson is the right man to examine political power. he was such a genius in the use of bending congress in all washington, and the greatest genius and use of political power america produced in the second half of the 20th century and it is endlessly fascinating to me, and the passage of power, to see him step into the presidency where the president is assassinated with no preparation at all, think of no preparation at all after today's political scientists say the time between election day in november and inauguration day in 11 weeks that it too short a time for a president to get
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ready to assume orbit? lyndon johnson had two hours and 6 minutes basically, the time in which he was sworn in on the plane, air force one, let's get airborne and landed in washington. he had to get off of the plane ready to be president of the united states and to see him step in with no preparation at all at a time when president kennedy's entire legislative program, civil-rights and every one of his other major bills as well was stalled completely by the southern committee chairman who controlled congress as they have been controlling it for over a quarter of a century, to see him get that program up and running and passing it, ramming it through, to what lyndon johnson do that in the first weeks after kennedy's assassination, is a lesson in what president can do if he not leno's all of the levers to pull but has the will in lyndon
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johnson's case, almost vicious drive to do it, to win, is to say over and over again and always saying to myself when i'm doing the research, with hall, look what he is doing here. i try, i don't say i succeeded by try to explain that in my books. it gives a true insight into how power works in washington. there is another reason i don't get tired of doing these books of lyndon johnson. because you are always learning something new. that goes even if what you are researching is something that has been written about a thousand or ten thousand times already as is the case in the
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centerpiece of this book, the assassination of president kennedy during a motorcade in dallas on nov. 20 second, 1963. lyndon johnson wass connally, once the sweetheart johnson's car is in that motorcade.
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thousands of books have been written about the assassination but they concentrate on what happens to jack kennedy. not one went into detail in what i consider an adequate way, not one of them went into substantial detail about what was happening to lyndon johnson. what was happening from his point of view. assassination had never been told from johnson's point of view. i said we have to do that. how do you do that? first, you interviewed the people who are still alive. john connolly himself was very helpful to me. he had a great ranch in south texas with a stable of quarter horses, used to come to the guest house where i would stay very early in the morning, 5:30 or 6:00 and we would go and sit on the top railing of the fence watching the mexicans exercise the quarter horses and he would tell me about -- he answered
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almost every question that i asked about anything in johnson's career but took me through the assassination in great detail. among the things he said was everybody thought when they heard the shots that with the motorcycle backfire or that it was a balloon going off for a firecracker but he said i was a hunter. i knew the instant i heard that it was the crack of a hunting rifle. i talked to everyone who was with lyndon johnson in the hospital, still alive, who was in hospital with lyndon johnson, congressman jack brooks, lyndon johnson's secretary, kennedy, secretary, i have learned there always seems to the other sources that have been overlooked. when i was doing this, suddenly
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i came across a fact, a secret service regulations that if you were a member of the presidential or vice-presidential detail and there was an incident, any incident involving the president or vice president and it was not an incident and if there was an incident you had to have the first available opportunity to type up a report with every detail you remember and give it to your chief of the secret service. i asked the secret service, never got a reply but i was thinking of the johnson library they have forty-four million documents and i went to the chief archivist and said does there exist in this library those secret service reports and she said yes, and there they suddenly delivered to my desk 23 secret service men in that motorcade and they were all involved in dallas that day and
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they were all bound in a volume that is not a formal volume but cardboard great volume, titled report of the united states secret service on the assassination of president kennedy. from these reports you find out quite a lot. take the report of just one of them, defense -- special agent in charge of the bison -- vice-presidential detail, secret service agent time mentioned the moment ago, rufous yarborough. he was riding in the first seat of johnson's car. the motorcade is going through his crowded streets of dallas from every window in the office until people are leaning out. every time jack kennedy waves they surge and the crowd surges against the police and the car has to go slower and slower. when jackie waves they surge even more enthusiastically to
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the car. suddenly they are out of the main area and they turn into a sort of empty area, a grassy plaza and as they do, there is a shark cracking sound, people fought with a firecracker, backfire of a motorcycle but john connolly knows what it is. rufus yarborough did know in the instant. he hears the noise and in his report, there it is typed up, statement of rufus w. young blood, chief concerning details events occurring in dallas, texas on november 22nd and it is in his testimony before the warren commission. he knows what it is, he looks up and in kennedy's car which is two cars ahead, he sees what he
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calls in his report not normal movements. the president appears to be tilting to the left. we know now the poignant tragic reason that kennedy was tilting to the left because although he had been hit by one shot he couldn't fall down because president kennedy has this terribly bad back and he wore a heavy coat and on days like dallas bay where he knew he was going to be a long, hard day, for additional protection he would wraparound his legs and his waist and eighth bandage and a figure rate configuration to give extra support so when he is hit by the first shot and goes like this and is therefore hit by this extra shot. youngblood sees not normal movements, the president tilting and at the same moment he sees an agent in the second car, the secret service, rising to his feet and grabbing up his
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automatic rifle and looking around, doesn't know for what. we know what youngblood does next. i wrote it this way. rolling in his seat youngblog shouted, ladybird said he shouted in a voice i never heard him use before, get down, get down! and grabbing johnson's right shoulder youngblood yanks him rightly down toward the floor of the center of the car and he almost leaped over the back of the front seat, through his body over the vice president's body shouting again get down, get down! by the time, only a matter of eight seconds later the next two sharp reports had cracked out everyone knew what they were now. lyndon johnson was down on the floor in the back seat of the car, curled over on his right side. the sudden large, sudden loud sharp sound, the hands suddenly
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grabbing the shoulder and putting him down, now he was on the floor, his face on the floor with the weight of a big man lying on top of him pressing him down. lyndon johnson would say he would never forgets his knees in my back and his elbows in my back and youngblood is sitting and half lying on top of him to protect him and youngblood is wearing a short wave radio to keep in communication with other cars and over this short wave radio crackling in johnson's year with what they are saying in the first two cars ahead, johnson here's he is hit, he is hit. he begins to hear the word hospital. youngblood tells the driver of his car close it up. he knows his maximum protection is going to be close to the secret service car ahead of him. the driver of johnson's car is
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the texas highway patrolman named herschel jack's and youngblood describes him as a potential -- typical texan, tough, puts the johnson car right behind the bumper of the secret service, are. as the three cars, kennedy, secret service and johnson wore off of the expressway, squeal of of a ramp and into the ramp apart from the hospital. youngblood says to johnson when we get to that hospital, don't stop for anything, don't look around, don't stop. we will get you some place a. the car stops and four agents who pull johnson out of a car and run him off of the emergency room bay, he doesn't have a chance to look around. his car is right next to kennedy's car. if he had a chance to look around he would have seen the president line on jackie's but doesn't get a glimpse. they run him through the
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hospital looking for a place they can protect. finally they come to something called the hospital minor medicine section and there is a cubicle in the back, three cubicles. the two are unoccupied and in the third patient is being treated. he is hustled out and they put johnson against the wall in the last cubicle. youngblood and lady bird next to him and someone brings a chair and she sits down. youngblood is standing in front of them. never leave their side. the room between this room and the outer rim two secret service agents and at the doorway -- am i doing that? [beeping sound] >> i will try to talk over. can you hear me ok?
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in the doorway is a fourth agent and youngblood says to him you stay in the doorway and don't let anyone pass you unless you personally know his face. said johnson is standing there for approximately 40 minutes. he doesn't know what has happened to president kennedy. can't get any information. occasionally he sends somebody out, a couple of his aides have coming to get information and all they come back and the doctors say they are still working on the president. that is the only information. johnson is standing against the back wall and after 40 minutes kenny o'donnell who is not only kennedy's appointments secretary but a man who really loved him and lady bird johnson wrote he came through the door seeing the face of kenny o'donnell who
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loves him, we knew. o'donnell says the johnson simply he is gone. moment later another kennedy aide comes into the room and those of the johnson and says mr. president. the first time he has ever been called that. what was lyndon johnson like during those 40 minutes when he is standing against the back wall? quite striking, congressman brooks came in, his aides who were there carter was -- they all used the same words as youngblood. he was absolutely calm. they remembered what ladybird was always saying about johnson, given to almost hysterical fits when he had a cold, always thought he was dying of pneumonia. but ladybird said in a tough spot he is a good man and
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watching his face in that 40 minutes was like seeing the face of a bronze statue. very tough face, let's compressed, we know lyndon johnson looked -- his eyes piercing but absolutely calm. the minute he is addressed mr. president he starts to act like one. the secret service agents coming and crowd around him and no one knows this isn't a conspiracy. you remember it was only a year past the cuban missile crisis. it just wasn't just the president was hit by a shot but the governor of texas. if youngblood hadn't thrown himself on top of lyndon johnson they didn't know if the shot was intended for him. they didn't know if this was a conspiracy and international conspiracy or another kind of conspiracy. they said we have to get you out of here immediately and back to the plane and taking off for washington because we can secure you best in the white house. johnson says no.
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i am not leaving until mrs. kennedy leaves with me. we can get her back to washington. won't leave without her husband's body. johnson says we will go to the plane and wait for her and the body there. calm, decisive, thought everything through in a moment. that scene on the plane when he gets to the plane also hadn't been described from his point of view. we all know the photograph, lyndon johnson standing with his hand up, kennedy standing next to him, ladybird on the other side, the judge administering the vote. it hasn't been told from johnson's point of view. to do that i'm going to talk to everyone who is alive who is still in that room. i think that talked to johnson's secretary. if you look at fast iconic photograph in the back behind
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the people you see the top of the young woman's curly black head. what she's doing there is as johnson takes the oath of office is checking to make sure the words are right. he left a wonderful oral history. watching johnson takeover, the kennedys, contempt for johnson, they called him rufus corn pone, and here he comes with his little pork chop. these reporters sort of had contempt for him also and the reporters, john roberts of the washington post said i have only seen lyndon johnson as kernel corn pone. i said it is going to be hard to think of him as president johnson. but watching him take over
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suddenly wasn't hard at all. he is towering over the room. johnson was always the biggest man in the room. so i am trying to talk to everyone who is a live there and it is sticking in my mind i have forgotten some one. i can imagine who i have forgotten. i keep going over the faces and needed their debt or for some reason and it suddenly occurs to me that who i forgot was the photographer. the photographer's name was cecil's outman. team must be dead by this time but i had him looked up in the national telephone directory, and there was a cecil stoutman living in florida. he is 89 years old and i call and his wife answers the phone and i said misses outman, my name is robert caro and i am writing books about lyndon johnson and she says cecil has been waiting for you to call.
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[laughter and applause] >> those of you who have read the book know that he threw the light on a lot of other details, fascinating details including the fact that the steadiness of johnson's hands, one hand on the bible in one hand -- there wasn't a tremor. he was absolutely calm. then there is the flight back. what was lyndon johnson doing on the flight back? seemed incredible to me that with all the books that have been written they haven't gone in real detail into that. it was quite a flight. everybody's mind is was very conspiracy? at every air force base along route, air force one is going back to washington, fighter planes are on the runway, their engines are running, the pilots are built into their seats and
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on radar screens in the shacks, rate our shacks men are built -- bend over the radar screens watching to see if there is any. approaching air force one. 1,000 pounds, air force one roars across america, flags are being lowered to half mast. church bells are starting to chime, new york city, the lights have been turned on for the theater at the marquee in times square, one by one lights go off. traffic, somebody years and stopped his car, cars behind start to beat and someone comes out and ask him, he tells what happened and the news circulates from car to car so traffic comes to a push cart cutler, hot dog peddler and he is sitting on a curb on broadway and someone gets out and says is it true? he says yes, he is dead on fifth
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avenue. the shop windows, salespeople come out in one store after another, take the mannequins out, put a photograph of president kennedy there. church bells in st. basilisk cathedral sought to time over the city. on the plane there are three compartments and the first compartment, the press and stack and kennedy's secretaries are sitting there sobbing. in the last compartment jackie kennedy is sitting next to the coffin of her husband but in the center compartment where lyndon johnson is sitting in the president's share there is an error of great calm. we know what he's planning because he is making a list, little note pad on air force one with the heading air force one and he writes on one of them one step, 2 cabinet, 3 the economy in with the staff, the cabinet immediately and the congressional leadership.
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we know about incidents that occurred during that flight or in one case just before it took off when lyndon johnson called to robert kennedy. these at the to to to have hated each other all their lives. at the time, kennedy is having lunch, he had a house in virginia called hickory hill, a big old house. then there's a long green lawn its slowed down. robert kennedy is sitting at a table with robert morgan who is jewish attorney for new york and two things happen simultaneously. all of a sudden the house is being repainted, there was a guy on the latter and all of a sudden he claps the shortwave transistor radio to his year,s down a ladder and starts to run towards us as fast as he can and
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at that moment the telephone rings on the table on the other side of the swimming pool and kennedy gets up and and does it and says to robert kennedy it is j. edgar hoover and hoover is telling robert kennedy that his brother had been hit and was probably killed. so on this plane johnson went into president kennedy's bedroom and made a call to robert kennedy and asks him for the details of being sworn in and the exact wording of the oath he should take as president. now you say is johnson taking revenge for all the accumulation that robert kennedy inflicted on him when he was vice president? or was there some other motive? we don't know. i certainly don't know but robert kennedy at his and his deputy, nicholas katzenbach to
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this pool. he spoke to him and katzenbach says anyone of 100 officials could have given johnson that information. i could have given him the information. he should have made that call. i asked marie famer who was on an extension taking down the words of the oath and she says what rather voices like? she said katzenbach's voice was like steel. robert kennedy's was when he started but then it wasn't. and then stopped and said to me he shouldn't have been talking on that call. not that lyndon johnson ever won it all against robert kennedy. when the plane lands at andrew's air force base he has made arrangements. i should have said one of the things people in the cab and
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said was how in assistant johnson was that jackie kennedy be standing beside him while he took the oath because he wanted a symbol of continuity and she understood this too. when she doesn't come out johnson says why don't you go get her and o'donnell says the want to do and she says for the sake of history i should. john some ones the coffin to come off of the back door of air force one where himself and jacqueline kennedy behind it and the kennedy aides and and his aides to have this impression of continuity but as the plane pulls up on andrews air force base the front door has a ramp go up to too and robert kennedy runs up the front ramp, pushes his way the land of the plane, pushes his way past lyndon johnson without ever looking at him and he goes down with jackie
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behind the coffin. we all know that scene of the coffin coming down on a forklift with jackie and robert behind it and they drive off and the ramp is moved away and so when johnson comes to the back door of the plane he has no place to go. he has to stand waiting while the carcanet -- carrying kennedy's body is leaving. there are a hundred fact about that day that we all thought we knew but we didn't. that could help in an attempt to understand lyndon johnson. and of course, in this book i try also to talk about the days right after this thing. his first confrontation with congress which has stopped kennedy so completely. he says what is on the agenda? some minor bill, export/import bill related to a week deal with russia and some conservative republican senator from the midwest has introduced an amendment that would limit the
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president's power and the kennedy people are prepared to let it go through. not johnson. he says i want that bill stopped. exact where i want that bill murdered a. she doesn't just want to defeat it. he wants it defeated by enough to show congress there's a new president now end you can't treat him the same way you were -- you can't treat me the same way you were treating him. so he calls in his vote counter and they don't even know, they tell him there are a certain number of votes but johnson is the greatest vote counter. he counts the votes and realizes -- almighty state on the telephone making calls to senators and the bill is murdered. johnson writes in his memoirs, at that moment the power of the federal government began flowing back to the white house and it did. one of the things this book "the
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passage of power" is about, really, is how lyndon johnson got power back from the white house. what he does with that power once he has it back. this book covers the first forty-seven days of "the passage of power". "the passage of power" from one president to another up to january 8th, 1964. by the end of that time, those 47 days, the passage is over. he has turned jack kennedy's built, civil-rights bill, tax bill, at least started all of them on the road to passage. january 8th is also the date that lyndon johnson's first state of the union speech, the speech in which he makes the presidency is unknown, with his announcement that america is going to have a war on poverty.
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if we don't know them and we don't -- to not well enough no history are wonderful. too many americans live on the outskirts of hope and that is -- that is his quote. that is who we have to help. the more detail you learn about how johnson did it, what he did with congress, what he did to congress, the more amazing accomplishment seems. the civil-rights bill is dead, he sees in an instant only one letter can move us forward, a parliamentary maneuver and i wrote in the book there was only one leader of lyndon johnson was going to grab. there was only one letter he was going to push, he was going to put all his weight behind it. all of a sudden the new york times write something changed on capitol hill yesterday and the civil-rights bill starts to
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move. during this brief transition period, what i call the passage of power, lyndon johnson not only rescued his predecessor's programs but launched one of his own, a war on poverty, a crusade for a mobile end that would had it succeeded have transformed america. that is not the whole story. of lyndon johnson's presidency. there's another problem yet to come. [applause] >> vietnam is yet to come. the war on poverty and many programs of the great society, the story of how the great
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dreams are to be submerged in vietnam is yet to come. what i try to do in this volume, what i think we can see with rare clarity in those 47 days, by watching lyndon johnson took hold of presidential power and so quickly began to use that power. it is so monumental, the immensity of the potential of an american president to transform the country he leads. thank you very much. [applause] >> i will be happy to take
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questions. yes, sir? >> in your book you talk a lot about the two sides of lbj, the dark side and the light side. for example, when president kennedy died he wrote such a moving condolence letter but can be so cruel to his staff and lady bird. can you comment on that a little more? >> can you hear the question? this is a wonderfully well organized festival. it is a rarity. johnson is the kind of person. one of the real difficulties in writing about him. a person of such contrast, cruelties could be so cruel, so monumental, the way he would break the rules of politics to steal the election that got him
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to the senate in a remarkable way. and beyond usual balance of politics. and the desire to help poor people, particularly poor people of color, that of lyndon johnson and part of his whole life also. >> what is your perspective on the writing of the assassination by the father of the former press secretary of president george w. bush? did you ever get to interviewing that author, the father of scott mcclellan? >> i didn't interview him. all i can say about lyndon johnson's role in the assassination is in all my years of working on lyndon johnson's papers and going for his diaries like everything else, all the people close to him, i never found the slightest hint that he had anything to do with the assassination. yes, sir? >> lbj is well remembered as
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someone who was very adept at gaining the senate and working with congress as president, difficult things done. how well did he do getting things done with a polarized environment? >> that is a terrific question. it is hard to answer, if part of the answer is the following, when lyndon johnson became majority leader of the senate in 1955 the senate was and has been for decades, let's put it that way, same mess, hard to believe, the same dysfunctional mess and it is today. bills couldn't get past. the power in front of the president wasn't a party,
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republicans against democrats, half of the democrats in the senate, southern democrats who were just as conservative as can be imagined on civil rights and everything else and in that year, 1965 if i have the number right, 16 great standing committees of the senate, republicans were chairman of nine of them and senior committee post was stacked with them. they stopped every president because no one seems to realize it. and when they realize the midwestern republicans were on the same side, and anyone got a major domestic bill through congress. and the senate becomes the
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center of governmental energy and creativity, he -- majority leader for six years. instantly the senate is back in the same mess. the nature of political genius is to find a way when no way appears obvious. i had no idea what president johnson would do. hopefully i could research it and find out but someone will come along to do again. >> one major event covered in this book was the u.s. role in the overthrow -- johnson is on record, can you elaborate on what particularly was it on that and why he believes the way he did on that point?
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ironically one of the things -- >> it is right at the beginning of the book i am writing now. the answer is so complicated and i don't have a summation of its. >> can i go back and refer to your book that you are talking about now? you stated united states was running murder -- >> lyndon johnson -- >> knew that you would get back to that. okay. johnson -- i don't want to be put in a position. johnson did say that, the kennedys for running a damned
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murder incorporated in the caribbean. exactly what documentation he had we don't know. >> now is happening here -- that was quoted in the book. >> we have time for one more question. >> thank you for your spellbinding reporting about lyndon johnson. [applause] >> could you elaborate a little bit about his stance on civil rights before he was president and how he passed this landmark legislation and what the differences were and his outlook on that issue? >> elaborate on lyndon johnson's stance on civil rights and how
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he got -- his stance on civil rights, and i am glad you asked me that because people are always asking how sincere he was? i always felt lyndon johnson always wanted to help poor people of color. i will tell you why i think i know that. when johnson was in college between his sophomore and junior years, had to drop out of college to teach and he tossed in a little town in south texas called cut too much in the mexican school. it was for the mexican children of mexican migrant workers and i wrote in that book no teacher had never cared that these kids learned or not. this teacher cared. he thought it was so important they learn english and he would spend the boys and ask the girls if they heard a word of spanish and go to migrant workers shacks so they would drive their kids to baseball so they could have
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the debating team and baseball team like the white kids had but the thing that got me, you could say that is just an example of lyndon johnson always trying to do the best job he could at whatever job he had and that -- i feel he really wanted to help. he didn't teach only the kids. he taught the janitor. the janitor's name was thomas coronado and johnson insisted he learned english. he bought in a textbook and every day before and after school they would sit on the steps of the school and coronado says johnson would pronouns, i would repeat, johnson would spell, i would repeat. i think lyndon johnson always cared about civil rights. the second part of your question, how did he get kennedy -- it takes a lot of pages in this book to talk about all the
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things he does but the thing he does on the instant, on the instant, this is totally dead. he says didn't someone file a discharge petition? discharge petition had been filed to take it away. this bill was in a committee that was never going to -- it was in the house rules committee which was chaired by judge howard w. smith of virginia. wouldn't even give a date. the bill was going nowhere. johnson remembers that someone filed a discharge petition to take away from that committee. almost never passed because it was a violation, no president's -- and introduced it and representative richard bolling of missouri has been told by the


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